Police have arrested 22 people in the EU’s alleged theft of $650 million in Italy’s pandemic funds.


BRUSSELS (AP) – Police in Italy, Austria, Romania and Slovakia arrested 22 people Thursday as part of an investigation into the embezzlement of millions of dollars in post-pandemic aid funds. European Union.

The 600 million euros ($650 million) was part of Italy’s post-pandemic funds, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office said.

The EPPO said it suspects the terrorist group of diverting funds that cannot be returned to Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan between 2021 and 2023.

The Italian program is supported by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, a multi-billion dollar program designed to help EU countries live a new life. resources that have been damaged by viruses.

According to EU statistics, Italy’s recovery and resilience program is the largest in the bloc, worth 194.4 billion euros ($211 billion) in bonds and loans and representing 10.8% of gross domestic product in 2019.

The EPPO said the financial police of Venice, Italy, issued a freezing order issued by a judicial judge on assets worth more than 600 million euros.

“With the help of law enforcement agencies from other countries involved, 22 people have been arrested in Italy, Austria, Romania and Slovakia,” the EPPO said.

“Eight people have been detained before trial, while (another) 14 suspects are under house arrest, and one accountant has been banned from doing his job. The suspects’ premises and the companies that were searched have also been searched and evidence seized. “

The EPPO said the criminal organization used false company documents when applying for non-reimbursable funds to support small and medium-sized companies expanding into foreign markets.

The criminals are believed to have been working with a group of “accountants, service providers and recruiters” to receive money transferred to bank accounts in Austria, Romania and Slovakia. The EPPO said the suspects used sophisticated technologies, such as VPNs, offshore cloud servers, crypto-assets and artificial intelligence software.



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